Meet the team

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Nordoff Robbins is home to an innovative and vibrant team of on-site researchers with specialisms in the fields of music therapy, music psychology and music sociology.

The team's work is regularly published in specialist journals and they  contribute to international conferences and lectures. The team sits within Music Services and is led by Dr Craig Robertson, Head of Research. 

Research interests include musical interaction, collaboration and improvisation, music therapy assessment and evaluation.

Dr Craig Robertson, Head of Research    Dr Owen Coggins, Researcher    Dr Li-Ching Wang  

Research Associate    Professor Gary Ansdell, Research Associate   Amy Macmillan, Monitoring and Evaluation Assistant

Research Interns


Craig has published internationally on music and conflict.

Craig holds a PhD in Music Sociology from University of Exeter, UK, an MMus (Distinction) in Contemporary Music Studies from Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK, a PGCE in Secondary School Music from Middlesex University, UK and a BMus at Mount Allison University, Canada.

He is on the editorial board for the online peer-reviewed journal Music and the Arts in Action and he is a member of the following research groups: Sociology of the Arts, Art and Conflict, International Peace Research Association and Asia-Pacific Peace Research Association. He has previously worked on a project for the Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development Unit (PRDU), School of Politics, University of York, funded by the British Council, that investigated the role of the arts in the ‘Arab Spring’ events in 2011-2012.

Craig is particularly interested in how music and conflict transformation, music sociology and the arts and culture in general intersect with the field of peacebuilding. I have conducted scholarly research on music and diaspora; music, food and identity; music and cultural identity, emotion and belief structures in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the North African nations affected by the “Arab Spring.”


Craig Robertson Selected Publications


After an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and several years of teaching English language in the UK, Bolivia, and Mexico, Owen studied for an MA in Religions at SOAS, University of London. Combining an academic interest in religion and mysticism with a love of music, his research topics included politics and religion in 1920s gospel blues music, and musical and religious knowledge in Rastafari. An ethnographic dissertation involved studying with a group of Sufi qawwali musicians in London.

He then completed a PhD in Music and Religious Studies at the Open University, exploring how audiences of drone metal (an extremely slow and repetitive subgenre of heavy metal) understood and communicated about their listening in terms of mysticism, ritual and spirituality.

Owen’s other research has investigated different aspects of marginal religious traditions in relation to sound, music and noise, areas which he hopes to further explore in relation to music therapy. 


Owen Coggins Selected Publications


Li-Ching completed her PhD at the Centre for Music and Science in the University of Cambridge and joined the Nordoff Robbins research team in 2016. Previously trained as a physiotherapist and musicologist, her PhD thesis explored the relationship between body movement and perception of rhythm. Her research interests include embodied music cognition, multicultural music perception and therapeutic effects of music. With clinical and teaching experience, Li-Ching hopes to contribute to music therapy in medical and educational fields.

Professor Gary Ansdell, Research Associate

Gary trained as a music therapist at the Nordoff Robbins Centre in London in 1987, and later at the Institut für Musiktherapie, Universität Witten-Herdecke, Germany. He has worked with many client groups in the UK and Germany (currently in adult psychiatry) and has been involved in developing and researching Nordoff Robbins music therapy and its broader growth within the Community Music Therapy movement. From 1994-7 Gary was Research Fellow in Music Therapy at City University London, during which time he completed his doctoral thesis: ‘Music Therapy as Discourse and Discipline’. In 2002 he established the Research Department at the Nordoff Robbins Centre in London. Gary designed the first music therapy doctoral programme in the UK (also at Nordoff Robbins), and also the new MA in Music Therapy (Community Music Therapy / Nordoff-Robbins) which launched in 2008 and is hosted at the Royal Northern College of Music. He is Honorary Research Fellow in Community Music Therapy at the University of Sheffield, and a member of the advisory editorial board of three journals: British Journal of Music Therapy, Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, Music & Arts in Action. In 2008 he was awarded the Royal Society for Public Health Arts & Health Award. He has written five books and published widely in the fields of music, music therapy and music and health/wellbeing.


Gary Ansdell selected publications

Research Interns

Occasionally there are research internship opportunities at Nordoff Robbins. These internships offer a unique opportunity to recent graduates or early career researchers to work alongside an experienced research team. We have people interning with us with a range of specialisms, experience and interests.

If you are interested in applying, please email us at


Previous Team Members

Neta Spiro, Head of Research (2014 - 2018)

How and why do so many different people participate in music? How and why does it help so many different people? How can we explore these questions? These questions run through my research and by asking such questions, I hope to contribute to music therapy. At Nordoff Robbins, my focus is on exploring what happens in music therapy and why, as well as how it is viewed by people who engage with it in different ways, what the effects of music therapy are seen to be and finding ways of contributing to the music therapy community.

Neta Spiro selected publications

Sherif Ejiwunmi, Data Analyst

Sherif Ejiwunmi holds a Business Info Systems degree from De Montfort University. He has always had a keen interest in IT and in the past has worked as an ICT Technician focusing on “The Cloud”. His final year project was a study that focused on Digital Currency (Bitcoins). 


Camilla Farrant, Researcher

Camilla trained as a music therapist at Nordoff Robbins (London, UK) after reading Music at Christ's College, Cambridge University and studying the cello and piano at the Royal Academy of Music. Her research interests are in musical interaction, music improvisation, music and speech, and evaluation of music therapy services. She works as Research Assistant to Prof Sarah Hawkins at the University of Cambridge for a project examining turn transitions in musical and verbal interaction, and is commencing her doctoral studies in October 2016 at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge, supervised by Prof Ian Cross and Dr Neta Spiro. 

Camilla Farrant selected publications

Giorgos Tsiris, Researcher

After training as a music therapist at the Nordoff Robbins Centre in London, Giorgos worked as a member of the Nordoff Robbins research team between 2009 and 2016. Currently he is Head of Research at Nordoff Robbins Scotland and Senior Lecturer in Music Therapy at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. He is the founding editor-in-chief of Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy and an editorial board member of the Journal of Music Therapy, International Journal of Community Music and Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy.  As a music therapy practitioner-researcher, Giorgos works with terminally ill people and bereaved families, and has a particular interest in collaborative and participatory research methodologies. His doctoral research (Nordoff Robbins / Goldsmiths, University of London) focuses on music therapy and spirituality.

Please see the Nordoff Robbins Academic and Research Review for Giorgos's publications.

Charlotte Cripps, Research Assistant

Charlotte completed her BA in Music at the University of Leeds before  studying for an MA in Music as Development at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. During the MA she was a part-time intern with the Nordoff Robbins research team. In 2014, she moved to South Africa to work with MusicWorks, an NGO based in Cape Town that runs community music and music therapy projects for infants and young people living in marginalised communities. In 2015, she returned to Nordoff Robbins, where she currently works as a Research Assistant. 

Charlotte Cripps Selected Publications

Katie Rose Sanfilippo, Research Assistant

Katie Rose Sanfilippo holds two undergraduate degrees from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles - She holds one BA in Music with an emphasis in vocal performance and choral conducting and another in psychology. She obtained an MSc in Music, Mind and Brain at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2015 andhe is currently a PhD student at Goldsmiths under the supervision for Prof. Lauren Stewart. Her research is investigating the use of a musical intervention for depressed and anxious pregnant women, andits effects on maternal antenatal mental health and infant cognitive and behavioural development.


Professor Mercedes Pavlicevic, Research Associate

Mercédès completed the Nordoff Robbins London training in London, and her doctoral studies at the Department of Psychology with Colwyn Trevarthen in 1991. As a music therapy practitioner she has worked with children, adults and older people in a range of institutional and community settingsin Scotland, South Africa, and the Lebanon. Mercédès co-instituted South Africa’s first accredited music therapy training programme and was director of the Master’s Music Therapy programme at the University of Pretoria until 2006. She has been involved in training community musicians and arts workers in South Africa and the Lebanon; and was for several years the arts therapies representative on the South African Health Professions Council. She is Research Associate at the School for Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, is past African editor of VOICES (until 2006), and chairs the Nordoff Robbins Research Committees. She is the author, co-author and editor of several key music therapy publications.

Professor Mercedes Pavlicevic publications